23 April 2017

*** What a War with North Korea Looks Like

By George Friedman

In the last week, the possibility of war between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States has increased. It is necessary therefore to consider what such a war might look like. I am using the term war rather than merely American attacks on North Korean nuclear and missile program facilities because we have to consider the possibility of North Korea’s response and a more extended conflict.

Such a war would be based on North Korea’s decision to move its nuclear program to a stage where the U.S. and other countries conclude it is possible that North Korea is close to having a deliverable nuclear weapon. Given that the North Koreans could not survive a nuclear exchange, it is hard to understand why they would have moved their program to this point. The obvious reason for having a nuclear program is to use it as a bargaining tool. The reason for having a nuclear weapon would be as a deterrent to a foreign power seeking regime change in North Korea. The most dangerous period for North Korea is when it is close to having a weapon but does not yet have it. That is the period when an attack by an external force is more likely. It is the period before North Korea could counterattack. Pyongyang’s decision to deliberately send signals that it has a nuclear weapon increases the urgency of an attack. Its decision is odd, even if it already has one or two nuclear weapons.

*** China's Embattled Military Modernization

By Stratfor

China's sweeping military reforms are proceeding apace. In a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday with the country's top military leadership, President Xi Jinping announced the start of the next phase in the effort to thoroughly modernize the Chinese military. The program, launched in late 2015, aims to enable China to wage modern warfare by updating the military's structure, its command and control, and, in particular, its service branches' ability to conduct joint operations. Xi's latest announcement highlights his administration's progress with the plan, expected to be in place by 2020. Nevertheless, it will be a hard-fought campaign for Beijing.

Reforming the military's structure hasn't been easy. Many components of the modernization campaign put personnel and even branches of the armed forces at a disadvantage. As the country moved to develop a capable joint force, it had to elevate other services such as the navy and air force to the detriment of the army, traditionally China's pre-eminent military branch. Beijing upgraded the Second Artillery Corps (now known as the Rocket Force) to a full service branch, reorganized China's four military departments into 15 agencies, and consolidated the People's Liberation Army's seven command areas into five regions. In addition, the government said it would retire a projected 300,000 troops, including generals and headquarters units, to streamline its force structure. The country's leaders braced for opposition, which some worried might derail the endeavor.

*** The Politics of Reincarnation: India, China, and the Dalai Lama

By Tshering Chonzom Bhutia

The Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang district in Arunachal Pradesh from April 7 to 11 garnered plenty of media attention. One of the most prominently discussed questions centered around the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation.

The Chinese side was unequivocal in not only objecting to the visit but also commenting on the reincarnation issue. The Chinese position, as encapsulated in remarks by scholars from important Chinese think tanks, is that the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation has to be approved by the Chinese government and selection has to be based on a combination of not just “historical rules” but also current “Chinese laws.” The reference to Chinese laws is with respect to the 2007 State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) regulation delineating procedures for the selection of reincarnated monks, including eligibility conditions, application procedures and the government and religious institutions to be approached for approval. The regulation basically excludes “any foreign organization or individual” from the reincarnation selection process, obviously in an attempt to legitimize China’s authority and exclude the Tibetan Diaspora (and others) in the selection of the next Dalai Lama.

The Chinese have consistently maintained that any reincarnation must be determined on the basis of the late 18th century procedure instituted by the Manchu Qing rulers of China. Under this “golden urn system” of selecting reincarnations, the names of prospective candidates would be placed in an urn, from which lots would be drawn to pick the real incarnation. Therefore, any other method being suggested by the Dalai Lama is seen as contrary to established rules and illegitimate, for it denies the Chinese government’s authority in the process.

** Osama bin Laden’s Secret Masturbation Fatwa


In January, the U.S. government released 49 new documents seized in 2011 from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Among the items — the fourth and final batch of bin Laden documents made public since 2012 — is a letter addressed to a senior colleague in North Africa in which the now-deceased al Qaeda leader raises “a very special and top secret matter”:

It pertains to the problem of the brothers who are with you in their unfortunate celibacy and lack of availability of wives for them in the conditions that have been imposed on them. We pray to God to release them. I wrote to Shaykh/Doctor ((Ayman)), [al-Zawahiri], and I consulted with Shaykh ((Abu Yahya)) [al-Libbi].

Dr. Ayman has written us his opinion … As we see it, we have no objection to clarifying to the brothers that they may, in such conditions, masturbate, since this is an extreme case. The ancestors approved this for the community. They advised the young men at the time of the conquest to do so. It has also been prescribed by the legists when needed, and there is no doubt that the brothers are in a state of extreme need.

The dangers of Hindi chauvinism


One of the most detailed debates in the Constituent Assembly was whether Hindi should be the official language of India. Even today, anybody reading the brilliant debates in the constituent assembly may be puzzled by why so much time was spent on the language issue compared to many other more fundamental constitutional design challenges. B.R. Ambedkar later revealed that no other issue had generated as much heat as the one on the official language of the new republic. Hindi was accepted by a slim margin of one vote. It was supposed to replace English in 1965 as the language of government. The status quo was maintained after violent agitations in several states of peninsular India.

Indian nationalists have for long recognized that a diverse country such as ours needs a common language for communication. The natural candidate for that is either the language most commonly spoken in India or the classical language of Indian civilization—Hindi or Sanskrit. The Zionists united Israel by reviving Hebrew. The overwhelming majority of national leaders—from M.K. Gandhi to Vinayak Damodar Savarkar—wanted some variant of Hindi. Ambedkar argued for Sanskrit and Subhas Chandra Bose was in favour of Hindi written in the Roman script.

What Champaran gave to Gandhi and India’s freedom struggle

Ramachandra Guha

A hundred years ago on April 10, 1917, Mohandas K Gandhi arrived in the district of Champaran in North Bihar. He spent several months there, studying the problems of the peasantry, who had been forced by European planters to cultivate indigo against their will. Farmers who refused to meet this obligation had their land confiscated.

Through his interventions with the colonial State, Gandhi was able to get substantial concessions for the peasantry. Rents were radically reduced, and the compulsion to grow indigo replaced by a system of voluntary compliance. This was a major victory for the peasants, and a significant triumph for Gandhi himself, since it established his credibility as a leader within India (as distinct from South Africa).

Understanding peasant life

Rather than rehearse the facts of the struggle in Champaran, this column identifies six distinctive features of Gandhi’s extended stay in the region, and how it determined his future course of work in India. This was Gandhi’s first direct experience of peasant life in his homeland. Gandhi had grown up in the towns of Porbandar and Rajkot, and worked as a lawyer in the great metropolis of Bombay. Then he spent two decades in South Africa. After his return to India in 1915, Gandhi travelled extensively through the country, but, before coming to Champaran, had interacted mostly with townspeople.

Lonely and disinterested

Happymon Jacob

Excess focus on bilateralism is leaving India isolated in its larger neighbourhood

Picture this: China is steadily increasing its geostrategic presence in South, Central and West Asia; there is a China-Russia-Pakistan axis on the rise in Southern Asia; China and Russia are revelling in a new-found rapprochement and aim to fill the geopolitical vacuum bound to be created by the U.S. withdrawal from the region; and, a retired Pakistan army chief is all set to take over as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Saudi-backed Islamic Military Alliance (IMA). Now ask yourself: Which regional power has been missing from these significant developments on the regional geopolitical landscape?

New Delhi’s foreign policy establishment and its national security team are either clueless about what is happening in its broader neighbourhood or seem to lack the wherewithal to anticipate, engage and shape geostrategic outcomes in the region and beyond. Or are they simply disinterested? Either way, New Delhi is increasingly looking like a grumpy old man constantly whining about age-old fears, stubbornly unwilling to explore new opportunities and face new challenges.

ASIA DEFENSE What’s Behind China’s Big New Drone Deal? Image Credit: Flickr/Times Asi What’s Behind China’s Big New Drone Deal?

By Ian Armstrong

When China recently revealed it had secured the “biggest overseas purchase order” in the history of Chinese foreign drone sales, it did so in mysterious fashion — by withholding both the value of the sale and the recipient of the arms.

The peculiarly offhand, one-sentence announcement belied the gravity of the deal, now reported as either a notable 30 or an unparalleled 300 Wing-Loong II attack drones to be sold to Saudi Arabia. Quickly following this revelation, it was more widely circulated that an agreement to establish a Saudi Arabian production line for China’s comparatively powerful CH-4 reconnaissance drone had also been secured.

This drone-fueled courtship emerged with a speed and subtlety that has obscured its full scale. Yet, make no mistake — the sudden, momentous drone diplomacy established between Beijing and Riyadh since February raises the stakes of present and future conflict in the Middle East.

China Restructures Military, Enhances Cyber-Warfare Capabilities


Chinese media reported on Wednesday that President Xi Jinping has announced a major restructuring of the People’s Liberation Army to create what he called a “world-class military.”

In addition to modernizing the PLA’s command structure and deploying more advanced equipment, the restructure is intended to put “greater emphasis on new capabilities including cyberspace, electronic and information warfare,” as Reuters puts it.

China is already in the process of reducing the size of its military by about 300,000 troops. The restructuring plans announced by Xi will leave the PLA with 84 military units, grouped into five regional commands instead of the current seven.

Newsweek reports another feature of the military reform plan will be the devotion of Chinese military resources to building and protecting the “New Silk Road” trade route, known formally in China as the “One Belt, One Road” program, a major national project for the Chinese.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency predictably gushes that “Chinese military servicemen have unanimously voiced strong support for President Xi Jinping’s instruction on a major military reshuffle.”

China Reveals Its Cyberwar Secrets


In an extraordinary official document, Beijing admits it has special units to wage cyberwar—and a lot of them. Is anybody safe?

A high-level Chinese military organization has for the first time formally acknowledged that the country’s military and its intelligence community have specialized units for waging war on computer networks.

China’s hacking exploits, particularly those aimed at stealing trade secrets from U.S. companies, have been well known for years, and a source of constant tension between Washington and Beijing. But Chinese officials have routinely dismissed allegations that they spy on American corporations or have the ability to damage critical infrastructure, such as electrical power grids and gas pipelines, via cyber attacks.

Now it appears that China has dropped the charade. “This is the first time we’ve seen an explicit acknowledgement of the existence of China’s secretive cyber-warfare forces from the Chinese side,” says Joe McReynolds, who researches the country’s network warfare strategy, doctrine, and capabilities at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis.

McReynolds told The Daily Beast the acknowledgement of China’s cyber operations is contained in the latest edition of an influential publication, The Science of Military Strategy, which is put out by the top research institute of the People’s Liberation Army and is closely read by Western analysts and the U.S. intelligence community. The document is produced “once in a generation,” McReynolds said, and is widely seen as one of the best windows into Chinese strategy. The Pentagon cited the previous edition (PDF), published in 1999, for its authoritative description of China’s “comprehensive view of warfare,” which includes operations in cyberspace.

U.S. Strategy for al Qaeda and ISIS: It’s Groundhog Day

By James Dubik

The current situation in Syria reminds us again that we are failing in our post-9/11 wars. We have accomplished neither the strategic objectives set forth by the Bush administration nor those of the Obama administration. Both administrations have had notable successes and achieved periodic tactical and operational progress, but neither created sustained strategic success. The jury on the current administration is still out, but on the campaign trail the President suggested we can defeat ISIS with military force alone—bombing the *@#! out of them. To put it kindly, this approach misses the mark. America has led a concerted leadership decapitation campaign against both al Qaeda and ISIS for a decade and a half. Such a campaign is necessary, but not sufficient. How much longer will we take this approach before we learn that we are waking up to the same day over and over again?

We must reset our thinking. The first, and most important step, is to admit we have not understood the kind of war we’re in, and we’ve tried to make it something it is not. Then we must read our enemy’s documents and actions to see them as they are: Al Qaeda, ISIS, and their ilk are waging (and have been from the start) a global revolutionary (and therefore ideological) war, a form of insurgency which is initially local and regional but already has global implications. We have waged, with few exceptions, a counterterrorist war. Our first approach was expansive: going after the terrorists and the states that sponsored them. Our second approach, the one we’re still using, is minimalist and gradualist: a combination of precise targeting of key individuals and selected groups coupled with reliance on surrogate ground forces. Neither works because both approaches miscast the enemy. We are waging one kind of war; our enemies are waging another. As long as we stay in this mode, our failure is near guaranteed.

Camouflaged Aggression: A Strategic Shift in Russia’s Cyber Activity


Russian cyber operations are widely discussed and reported on today. Conversations frequently range from how the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to the utilization of Russian social media trolls for political influence. Often missing from the conversation, however, is how these operations fit into the overall context of Russian intelligence cyber operations, including the methods deployed and tactics used. 

When the historical context of Russian cyber operations is discussed, it is usually the pundits who claim that the specific operations are not stealthy enough to be attributed to the secretive Russian government, as traditional perceptions suggest they solely operate in the shadows. This is an inaccurate and outdated representation of Russian cyber operations. Those critics have ignored the widely accepted premise that tactics, techniques, and procedures evolve. By assuming Russia would operate in the same stealthy way now as it did five years ago, these critics overlook the major changes that have taken place since 2014. Understanding the larger picture of how Russian intelligence is shifting its tactics is helpful, not just for attribution purposes, but it also provides better insights into the possible motivations behind their activity. This understanding creates the opportunity to craft a more fitting response.

Since 2014, Russian intelligence has become noticeably more brazen in their cyber activity. In the past, Russian cyber actors were known for covering their tracks, but these actors often no longer edit network logs or delete lists of downloaded files. Instead, these Russian actors leave forensic clues that would be rather simple to clean up, as if attribution is no longer a concern.

How the Pentagon Plans to Beat Russia and China's Air Defenses in a War

Sebastien Roblin

U.S. warplanes flying over Syria today find themselves operating within the range of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles. While the U.S. military is unlikely to intentionally attack Russian forces in Syria, the situation highlights the importance of suppressing enemy air defenses—one major tactic U.S. flyers have long relied upon is radar jamming, or saturating enemy radars with “noise” and false signals so that they can’t track and fire upon friendly airplanes. The U.S. Navy has relied on the ALQ-99 jamming system for nearly half a century, even as opposing radars grew in ability. However, by the beginning of the next decade it will begin fielding the superior Next Generation Jammer, boasting significant electronic-attack and signal-intelligence capabilities.

The powerful ALQ-99 tactical jamming pod first entered U.S. Navy service in 1971, carried by the EA-6 Prowler, an electronic-warfare variant of the A-6 Intruder carrier-based attack plane with a four-man crew. The U.S. Air Force eventually supplemented the Prowler with faster and larger EF-111 Ravens, informally known as Spark Varks because of the intense static buildup their jammers generated. Both planes proved effective in suppressing air defenses in Iraq and Libya. However, the Raven was withdrawn from service early in 1998, as the imminent retirement of the F-111 fleet made it prohibitively expensive to operate. Seventeen years later, the Navy retired its aging EA-6s in favor of new EA-18G Growlers—special electronic-warfare variants of the F-18 Super Hornet. The two-seat Growlers are much faster and better armed, but must rely on automation to make up for the reduction in crew size.

** Checking The Pulse Of American Tech

By Rebecca Keller and Matthew Bey

For most of its history, the United States' seat at the forefront of innovation has gone unrivaled. Thanks to its natural geographic strength, ample access to capital, top-tier education and expansive government-funded research, the nation has pushed the boundaries of science like no other. But as any bodybuilder will tell you, true strength requires upkeep. And the proposed budget cuts of the newest U.S. administration have many American scientists - and Washington's foreign rivals - questioning whether the United States is about to lose its competitive edge.

Above image: Uncertainty is building in the hallowed halls of America's finest research institutions -- about funding, about immigration, and about the next four years of policy under the new U.S. administration. (DAVID MCNEW/Getty Images)

Of course, America's executive branch doesn't have the authority to dictate government spending; Congress does. So as was true of most of his predecessors, President Donald Trump presented what was more of a policy wish list than a detailed accounting document to U.S. lawmakers in his March budget outline. Even so, his proposed cuts to the nearly $70 billion in research funding that the government provides each year have sent ripples of concern throughout the scientific and technical communities.

Investment in science and technology, along with supportive policies and a smart regulatory environment, is crucial to staying competitive in today's globalized world. Some factors determining a country's success, such as geography and infrastructure, are less malleable to the changes wrought by individual leaders. But others, such as the availability of funding, ebb and flow based on the party in power. And if Trump's suggested cuts are approved, they could disproportionately impact some sectors - climate science, alternative energy and biomedical research, to name a few - more than others.

The Losers

Though Trump's budget proposal isn't passable in its current form, it still provides a glimpse of the sectors most at risk under his tenure. The National Institutes of Health - the cornerstone of the United States' biomedical research endeavors - would see its funding cut by $1.2 billion this year, and again by nearly $6 billion in 2018 (a 20 percent reduction of its current budget). These cuts, along with others like them, would be particularly devastating to university researchers who rely on government financing to support their world-class programs. After all, basic research (which often doesn't have immediate applications but is vital to technological development nonetheless) routinely struggles to attract the interest of the private sector because it offers no obvious, rapid return on investment.

Despite having proposed cuts to other agencies that support U.S. research, including the National Science Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Trump's suggested trims to the Department of Energy stand to have the greatest geopolitical impact. The budget on the table eliminates the loan guarantees for the innovative technology and vehicle manufacturing programs of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. These projects support the development of several different technologies, including automated vehicles, green energy, batteries, cold fusion and upgrades to the electrical grid, that stand to change the face of geopolitics as we know it. Scaling back the government's support for these initiatives will not immediately set the United States back among its peers, but it will make maintaining its lead all the more difficult. That said, the budget is also based on the intention of reducing regulation and eliminating excess spending - inefficiencies and waste that certainly exist in the organizations in question.

The Winners

Not everyone would lose out under Trump's belt-tightening measures. In fact, some, such as the Defense Department, even stand to gain. Military research and fields with direct military applications such as materials science will no doubt continue to receive generous funding during the new president's tenure. Though the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - the departmental branch responsible for conducting cutting-edge research - wasn't specifically mentioned in the White House's proposal, its prospects are much rosier than those of other government organizations. The same may be true of the country's space programs; a number of NASA's planetary science and climate programs are on the list of cutbacks, but those focused on space exploration have gone untouched, and Trump has publicly declared his support for certain space programs before.

The Realities

When all is said and done, many of the White House's deepest cuts are unlikely to come to pass - at least to their fullest extent - because they have already generated substantial pushback from the very lawmakers whose buy-in is needed for their approval. But in this case, outcome may be less important than intent. The motives of Trump's budget are clear: to trim government excess and address long-standing inefficiencies. These goals were key talking points on the president's campaign trail last year, and the "skinny" budget they have yielded signals the new administration's plan to drastically shrink the U.S. bureaucracy.

The executive branch has more power to do that in some areas than in others. Departmental restructuring and staffing, for instance, are under the president's purview, even if funding appropriations are not. These avenues could certainly enable the White House to curb or even remove specific government-funded initiatives that don't align with its policy goals. (Climate science has been pinpointed as a particularly vulnerable field under the current administration.) The same could be said of executive orders, which Trump has already proved willing to wield in order to reshape regulation and immigration policy, albeit with varying degrees of success.

The Workers

Funding can't guarantee innovation, nor does its absence ensure failure. Countries also have to factor human capital into the equation, including their ability to bring the best and brightest to their shores. But Trump ran for the presidency on the promise of creating jobs for American workers, a priority that could blunt the United States' competitive edge in certain sectors such as technology.

For instance, early on in his term, Trump issued an executive order that eliminated the option of expediting H-1B visas, the bulk of which go to foreign computer programmers and software developers. The United States' software and hardware sectors rely most heavily on this specialized class of documentation to attract exceptional and highly educated employees. Yet with little fanfare, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sent a memo reiterating that entry-level computer programmers were ineligible for H-1B visas during its most recent round of applications. Trump then signed an executive order requiring the delivery of reports on changes meant to improve the H-1B visa program.

Ironically, though these measures were meant to protect the domestic workforce, they may end up doing more harm than good by pushing the affected jobs offshore. India's citizens and companies receive the most H-1B visas in the world; firms may relocate more of their programming and software jobs there as they adjust to stricter policies in Washington. Mexico and Canada have similarly positioned themselves to serve as alternative employment locations within the NAFTA market. It may not be long before the United Kingdom and Ireland follow suit, leaning more heavily on their status as English-speaking labor locales. (After all, most of the basic coding languages in computer science are in English.)

The Response

Uncertainty is building in the hallowed halls of the United States' finest research institutions - about funding, about immigration and about the next four years in general. At an individual level, researchers' jobs and programs are in jeopardy, as are the careers of many young graduate students as funding and teaching positions risk getting cut.

But this trepidation reaches well beyond the ivory towers and into national tech hubs such as Silicon Valley. Despite PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel's initial role in the Trump administration, there is a notable lack of tech representatives on the president's team of advisers. And at this crucial stage in the U.S. tech sector's development, delays and setbacks could leave the United States at a disadvantage down the line. The high barriers to entry that ensured exclusivity in the world of software 15 years ago no longer exist, and as costs of innovation have plummeted, the field of competitors has become much more crowded.

Easier access to the market, coupled with tighter U.S. restrictions on attracting talent from abroad, has increased the risk that innovation in tech will begin to center on other countries. As the political tides shift in the United States, other nations may take the opportunity to bolster research efforts of their own - though most will remain confined to certain sectors. As it stands, no other country has been able to replicate the massive, broad-based university system that draws students from around the globe to America. (According to The Best Schools' ranking, 85 of the world's top 100 universities are in the United States.) So while figures such as French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron have pointed to their countries as alternative research hubs, they cannot even begin to compete with the vast educational and scientific foundation the United States has already built.

In fact, the only country that could feasibly hope to someday match the United States' pervasive success in technological development is China. In some areas, it has already begun to mount that challenge. But China's universities, state funding programs and labor pool still have a long way to go before they can be considered to be on par with the United States' - a process that will easily take more than four to eight years to complete.

And so, the United States will keep its wide lead over its rivals abroad, even if the lead narrows somewhat in specific fields. Because in the years ahead, changes to funding will mean changes to the priorities of the U.S. tech sector. Faced with less government financing, private U.S. companies will have to shoulder more of the costs of progress on their own. This will not bring innovation to a standstill, but it will bring the ability to turn a profit and recoup costs front and center in developmental decision-making. As a result, the United States may have little choice but to join its peers in focusing its attention on fewer scientific sectors - opening the door to other nations eager to close the gap.

"Checking the Pulse of American Tech" is republished with permission of Stratfor.

What Really Is The ‘Buy American, Hire American’ Order And Will It Impact Indian Professionals?

Srikanth Ramakrishnan

The ‘Buy American, Hire American’ order would not have any direct effect on H-1B visas in the short term, but is rather being enforced to encourage government agencies to give priority to American companies when awarding contracts.

A lot has been said about United States President Donald Trump’s new executive order titled ‘Buy American and Hire American’ (BAHA) order. There is a lot of apprehension about its impact on H-1B visas and employment of foreign nationals in the United States (US). So what exactly is happening?

Here is a short guide to the entire issue.

What is an H-1B visa and how is it issued?

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows an employer in the US to employ foreigners in speciality professions for a period of up to three years. In case the employee is no longer employed with the employer who sponsored the visa, he/she must either change the visa type or find another employer or leave the country.

PLOWED UNDER U.S. Farmers, Who Once Fed the World, Are Overtaken by New Powers

By Jesse Newman and Jacob Bunge

GREENVILLE, Ill.—On a pancake-flat stretch of land not far from the Mississippi River, Illinois farmer Jerry Gaffner thumbs through weather forecasts and crop reports on his tablet computer, searching for clues about when to market his soybean crop.

The data streaming in isn’t from Illinois or even the American Midwest. It is from half a world away in Brazil, where farmers are harvesting what’s expected to be a record soybean crop. With 43% of the export market—up from just 12% 30 years ago—Brazil can sway global prices with a weather hiccup or transportation snarl, spurring U.S. farmers to sell crops and capture profits, or to bunker grain and hold off until prices improve.

Mr. Gaffner pays close attention to South American conditions because of the new reality facing U.S. farmers: America’s agricultural dominance has eroded.

Brazil overtook the U.S. as the world’s biggest soybean exporter in 2012-13, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s projected to be the second-largest corn exporter, on the heels of the U.S., this season. As of the last crop year, Russia now beats America in shipments of wheat.

It’s a reversal for a country that has long identified as the world’s bread basket. America’s share of global corn, soybean and wheat exports has shrunk by more than half since the mid-1970s, the USDA says. In soybeans, the most exported U.S. crop, U.S. supplies make up about 40% of world exports, down from more than 70% three decades ago.

Risk of ‘Accidental’ Nuclear War Growing, UN Research Group Says


The warning comes as the Pentagon begins an extensive review of its nuclear arsenal. 

On Sept., 26, 1983, shortly after midnight, the Soviet Oko nuclear early warning system detected five missiles launched from the United States and headed toward Moscow. Stanislav Petrov, a young lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Defense Force, was the duty in the Serpukhov-15 bunker that housed the Oko command center. Petrov was the man in charge of alerting the soviets about a nuclear attack, which would trigger a retaliatory strike. He determined that the Oko had likely malfunctioned and the alarm was false. The Americans would not start World War III with a quintet of missiles (risking total annihilation.) It was a daring judgment call. He was, of course, right. As the U.S. prepares to undertake a new nuclear posture review to determine the future direction of the nation’s nuclear weapons, a report from a United Nations research institute warns that the risks of a catastrophic error — like the one that took place that early morning in 1983 — are growing, not shrinking. Next time, there may be no Lt. Col. Petrov in place to avoid a catastrophe.

On Monday, the U.S. Defense Department commenced a new, massive study into its nuclear weapons arsenal, looking at how weapons are kept, how the U.S. would use them in war and whether they present an intimidating enough threat to other countries not to attack us. The review was mandated by President Trump in a Jan 27, memo.

** LTG H.R. McMaster Survival Articles - Free Access - Four Articles

By SWJ Editors

H.R. McMaster has a long association with Survival, including as one of our Contributing Editors, in which role he has been writing regular book reviews on war, conflict and the military.

In light of his appointment by President Donald Trump as National Security Advisor, we thought it would be helpful to lift the paywall for four of his longer contributions to the journal. We are grateful to our publishers, Taylor and Francis, who have made the following articles free-access.

Leaders should also abandon the belief that wars can be waged efficiently with a minimalist approach to the commitment of forces and other resources. The belief that progress toward achieving objectives in Afghanistan and Iraq could be achieved by doing just enough to establish security and help nascent governments and security forces assume responsibility for ongoing conflicts betrayed linear thinking, neglected the interaction with determined enemies, ignored other sources of instability, and was based on a misunderstanding of the nature of those conflicts. Consequences of linear thinking in Afghanistan and Iraq included overestimating indigenous forces’ capabilities, underestimating the enemy and the associated expectation that the coalition could soon reduce force levels and shift to an exclusively advisory effort. A short‐term approach to long‐term problems generated multiple short‐term plans that often confused activity with progress.

Psyched Out: Using Narrative Power to Exploit Cognitive Flaws by Jon Herrmann

Jon Herrmann

Somewhere, likely in many nations, adversaries are training to target the psychological vulnerabilities of American leaders. This article offers a possible structure that adversaries could use to exploit cognitive flaws and American cultural effects on decision-making. This article is intended to offer a lens through which to view information, with an eye to better understanding potential effects of information and information operations (IO) in traditional conflict, unconventional warfare, and civil-military operations. Readers are welcome to use this outline to evaluate if current events support adversaries using something like this model to promote decisions that are bad for American interests, but good for America’s adversaries.

One caveat- generalizability- requires mention. This article’s applicability rests in its focus on process, so the rubric can be used in many situations. This work follows the advice of a respected international relations expert- “If the focus remains on the similarities of process, rather than outcome, and sufficient attention is paid to circumstances that make the relevant conditions more similar than different, generalizability becomes possible.”[1]

The intent to exploit cognitive flaws to manipulate leaders’ decisions is not new. What may be new is the power of old narratives based on new neuroscience. Advances in neuroscience allow psychologists to examine the brain at work. Modern innovation is the increasing acceptance of biologically-based cognitive flaws outside psychology. Rational-choice theorists in many fields have been slow to accept the importance of cognitive flaws. Even today, many studies of international relations assume that a nation is a rational, unitary actor. But what if decisions are made by leaders, rather than nations? (Foreign leaders have been targeted by IO,[2] which implies that American leaders are also targets.) Would IO campaigns target U.S. leaders? And would understanding cognitive flaws empower adversary those campaigns?

US Army Exploring ‘Devastating’ New Weapon for Use In War with Russia


The Kinetic Energy Projectile would be a tungsten warhead that moves at three times the speed of sound, destroying anything in its path. 

Were the United States to go to war with Russia, both sides could draw on deadly weapons that the world has never seen on a battlefield. On the Russian side, there are new and smaller tactical nuclear weapons. To counter them, the U.S. Army is taking another look at a “devastating” weapon, one first tested by the Air Force and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2013, the Kinetic Energy Projectile, or KEP, a tungsten-based charge moving at three times the speed of sound that can destroy anything in its path.

“Think of it as a big shotgun shell,” Maj. Gen. William Hix, the Army’s director of strategy, plans & policy, said a few weeks ago at the Booz Allen Hamilton Direct Energy Summit. But unlike a shotgun shell, Hix said, the KEP moves at incredible speeds of “Mach 3 to Mach 6.”

Randy Simpson, a weapons programs manager at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, explains that kinetic energy projectiles are warheads that “take advantage of high terminal speeds to deliver much more energy onto a target than the chemical explosives they carry would deliver alone.” 

Army tests drone-killing lasers as threat grows on the battlefield


SAN ANTONIO — As Islamic State-piloted commercial drones complicate the offensive in Mosul, sending Iraqi troops scattering as grenades and bomblets rain down, the Army has field tested vehicle-based lasers to combat the growing threat of enemy eyes in the sky.

Infantry-carrying Stryker vehicles mounted with the Mobile High Energy Laser, a 5-kilowatt beam that scrambles the circuits of drones, took part in demonstrations at the Maneuver Fires Integration Experiment at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, a 10-day exercise that ended last week.

The system includes radar detection and a camera to visually track aircraft on a screen, where an operator targets the drone with the laser. A “hard kill” will disable the drone mid-flight and send it crashing to the ground, the Army said. A “soft kill” occurs when the laser severs the communications link between the drone and its ground control station.

War Books Profile: Col. Jim Greer, U.S. Army (Ret)

By Jim Greer

Easily the work that most transformed my thinking about military operations; much more than just the OODA (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) Loop.

Carl von Clausewitz, On War

This classic introduced me to the importance and role of theory in understanding war and military operations.

Col. Dandridge (Mike) Malone, Small Unit Leadership

This is still the best book on small unit leadership I have read and it was written after Vietnam.

Richard Gabriel and Paul Savage, Crisis in Command

We talk often about “toxic leadership.” This book was instrumental in correcting the toxic leadership that emerged as a result of the Vietnam War.



At approximately 2:40 in the afternoon of March 22nd, British-born Khalid Masood — a violent criminal who had previously been investigated by MI5 for links to extremists — deliberately drove into pedestrians making their way across Westminster Bridge. He killed a mother on her way to collect her children from school, a pensioner, and two tourists. After crashing the rented vehicle into the gates of Parliament, Masood ran into New Palace Yard and stabbed an unarmed policeman to death before being shot and killed by plainclothes officers. In contrast to other recent attacks in Western nations, which have frequently (sometimes incorrectly) been labeled acts of “lone-actor” terrorism, Masood’s assault was followed by a volley of articles with titles such as “Remote-Control Terror,” “Don’t Bet on London Attacker Being a Lone Wolf,” and “The Myth of the ‘Lone Wolf’ Terrorist.” Analysts were keen to point out that “lone-actors” are very rarely truly alone and that instead they tend to emerge from within broader, extremist milieus. Moreover, what sometimes seems like lone-actor terrorism at first glance turns out to be connected to, if not directed by, foreign terrorist organizations. Yet the official word on Masood is that, regardless of his associations, he acted “wholly alone.” To accurately understand the nature of terrorism today, patient, measured analysis and consistent use of terminology are necessary. It is therefore important to re-examine the concept of lone-actor terrorism and to try and appreciate where it fits within the overall spectrum of jihadist terrorist activity in the West.

Government Needs ‘Heavy Artillery’ for Cyberspace, DHS Chief Says


Plodding bureaucracy could leave government outgunned in cyberspace, John Kelly said in his first major address as secretary. 

The government must upgrade the digital weapons it uses to defend federal networks from nation-state and criminal hackers, Homeland Security Secretary Gen. John Kelly said Tuesday.

Kelly cited “nation-state actors with extremely sophisticated tools,” “lone wolves” and “cyber terrorists that simply buy malware on the internet” as top cyber adversaries during his first major speech as secretary at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.

Government risks being outgunned in cyberspace because of the “plodding pace of bureaucracy,” Kelly warned during prepared remarks, though he skipped over that section in his formal address.

Allowing digital defenses to develop at government pace is akin to “sending troops to take Fallujah armed with muskets and powdered wigs,” Kelly warned in those remarks, adding that “our federal cybersecurity needs heavy artillery.”

The Army fielded 15 years' worth of comms equipment — now what?

By: Mark Pomerleau, 

Army leaders are coming to grips with the service's enduring problems associated with logistics, maintenance and sustainment of its existing, aging systems. These challenges stem from over a decade of war during which issues like life cycle management of systems was not taken into consideration, one reason being the operational tempo of conflicts forces were engaged in. 

As the U.S. is now engaged in far more countries than it was 15 years ago combined with new characters of war – characterized by leadership as multi-domain battle against near-peer adversaries – these problems are coming to a head. It's forcing the Army to retroactively instill better practices while changing the way they purchase, sustain and maintain future portfolios. 

One of the offices looking to remedy this problem is the Integrated Logistics Support Center within the Army’s Communications-Electronics Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground. 

The center is responsible for providing integrated logistics, sustainment and acquisition support for C4ISR systems. “The responsibility of what we call integrated logistics sustainment, it’s not just the having the right part in the right place at the right time and the movement of those, it is the planning, the projection, the actual procurement of the parts, the delivery of those parts,” Liz Miranda, the center’s director told C4ISRNET in an interview at her office. 

The 3 ‘B’s’ Of Cybersecurity

By Scott Shackelford,

Large-scale cyberattacks with eye-watering statistics, like the breach of a billion Yahoo accounts in 2016, grab most of the headlines. But what often gets lost in the noise is how often small and medium-sized organizations find themselves under attack.

In the last year, half of American small businesses have been breached by hackers. That includes Meridian Health in Muncie, Indiana, where 1,200 workers’ W-2 forms were stolen when an employee was duped by an email purporting to come from a top company executive. Many small companies are just one fraudulent wire transfer away from going out of business.

There’s lots of advice available about how to fight cybercrime, but it’s hard to tell what’s best. I am a scholar of how businesses can more effectively mitigate cyber risk, and my advice is to know the three “B’s” of cybersecurity: Be aware, be organized and be proactive.

Here’s how more companies can boost their cybersecurity preparedness without breaking the bank.